The American University of Malta has removed one of its new batch of lecturers from its website over suspicions he had lied about having obtained a marketing PhD from the University of Oxford.
Lovin Malta is informed the AUM has not yet allowed Thomas Towey to teach students as it is still awaiting him to hand over his original Oxford degrees a month after he was hired. He is the only AUM lecturer who has yet to hand over his official degrees.
This will come as another blow for the AUM, which has only managed to attract a handful of students in its inaugural year and which replaced practically its entire academic staff during the Christmas holidays. Last week, the AUM fired one of its new lecturers, Robert Cardullo, after it discovered he had a history plagiarising film critics.
Now focus has turned to Towey – whose AUM profile had described him as an Oxford graduate with a PhD in marketing, with experience as an Associate Dean at Bangkok University, and as lecturer at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and at the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus.
Thomas Towey’s old AUM profile
However, the University of Oxford’s own website says that Towey had actually obtained a PhD in modern history back in 1978. There is no online record of him having a PhD in marketing.
What there is record of is proof he had presented himself as having obtained Oxford PhDs in different subjects when he was employed at two other universities, neither of which were listed on his AUM resume.
When Towey was working as a visiting lecturer at the American University of Iraq last year, he was described as an Oxford PhD graduate in international management. When he was working as a lecturer at the Burapha University in Thailand before that, he was described as an Oxford PhD graduate in international business. His American University of Iraq also says Towey had lecturing experience at the New York University, which is missing from his AUM profile.
Also, although there is no online record of Towey ever being employed with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Bangkok University or the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia, there is record of him having worked with University Utara (Malaysia) and Ramkhamkhaeng University (Thailand).
Screenshot from the University of Oxford
Screenshot from the American University of Iraq
Screenshot from the Burapha University
Serious questions will now have to be asked of the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE), which said last month that it was “satisfied with the calibre” of the AUM’s new batch of lecturers – which included Thomas Towey and Robert Cardullo.
The NCFHE’s external quality assurance manual states that universities must apply “clear, fair and transparent processes for the recruitment, conditions of employment and professional development of staff”. Its university licensing guidelines also state that universities must submit the names, qualifications and emails of all its faculty and lecturing staff.
The NCFHE has not responded to a request for comment as of the time of writing.
This case could also affect the American University of Malta’s ongoing attempts to gain accreditation in the United States. To reach this aim, the AUM has roped in the South Carolina-based Clemson University as its quality assurance advisory partner. Last July, Clemson reported as part of its review that AUM expects all its full-time faculty to “hold a terminal degree as appropriate to the academic discipline”.
The accurate disclosure of lecturer qualifications is a pre-requisite for universities to gain accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the USA’s accreditation provider.